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Aerobic Exercise for Arms

When most people consider aerobic exercise, they think about leg-focused activity such as running, biking or using a step machine. But, what if you can’t use your legs due to injury? Some people may also need to focus more on the arms to develop better stamina for activities like swimming or rock-climbing.

You can participate in many activities that include (or only use) the arms to boost your aerobic fitness. Rowing, elliptical machines and the upper body ergometer are just a few.

Rowing Ergometer Training

Whether it’s boredom with running on the treadmill or trying to tighten and tone the arms for a more attractive appearance, the rowing ergometer is a great way to get in cardio training that emphasizes the arms.

Ergometer rowing primarily uses the arms while also activating over 90 percent of the body’s muscles to raise your heart rate and improve your aerobic fitness. It can also strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the core, back and hips. Strengthening these areas can help athletes perform better when cycling, running or swimming.

Elliptical Trainer

Exercising on an elliptical machine can improve balance and mobility, and provides a powerful hip workout while still offering an aerobic workout using the arms. According to the Hospital for Special Care, elliptical machine exercise provides upright physical training for patients who aren’t able to use their lower bodies for conventional aerobic exercise.

Both the upper and lower body gets an effective workout as you pedal away on the gliding rails while pumping the arm poles. The integration of upper and lower body in the workout can result in you burning more calories than you would with conventional aerobic training using only the legs.

Upper Body Ergometer

This machine looks like a bicycle for the arms. It’s performed seated in front of an arm crank that has grips for the hands. Use the upper body ergometer to strengthen and tone your upper body as well as raise the heart rate to train for aerobic fitness. Instead of relying almost entirely on the lower body to do cardiovascular exercise, the upper body ergometer is designed for exercising without stressing the lower body.

Not only are upper body ergometers used for rehabilitation from a lower body injury, they’re also popular with competitive athletes and many sports teams as a form of cross training. Although this machine isn’t as well known as the treadmill or elliptical machine, there are benefits to using them in a fitness routine. The rotary motion stimulates the core muscles, conditioning the abs and back muscles.

Besides aerobic training, upper body ergometers can be used as part of a strength program while combining the benefits of cardio and strength training into one workout.

Endless Rope Machine

Rope climbing is an incredible arm workout, and the endless rope machine makes it possible to get an aerobic workout using just the arms even if you're not near a rock climbing facility or mountain.

This machine feeds an endless loop of rope that you pull down to simulate rope climbing. You can adjust the resistance so you can keep your heart rate in an aerobic training range.

Use the endless rope machine to burn calories, tighten and tone the arm muscles and become fitter without using the legs at all.

Battle Ropes

Train with battle ropes for an aerobic arm workout that burns calories and also strengthens and tones many other parts of the body. Battle rope training is a recent addition to fitness. It's a piece of 1- to 1 1/2-inch thick rope that can be up to 50 feet long. The middle part of the rope is anchored so you can grasp an end in each hand and shake, wave or swing it to get a powerful, arm-focused cardio workout.

Each different movement variation can also work other muscle groups besides arms. For example, swinging the rope from side to side places more emphasis on the hips and core.

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About the Author

George W. Citroner is a freelance journalist covering science, medicine, and health.

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